U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pledged close cooperation with India in the fight against terrorism, as he visited New Delhi for talks Wednesday with Indian officials.
Speaking at a news briefing alongside Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, Tillerson said the United States has boosted its commitment to Afghanistan as well as the peace and stability in the wider South Asia region.
“India plays an important role in this effort,” he said. “In the fight against terrorism, the United States will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with India. Terrorist safe havens will not be tolerated.”
Tillerson’s schedule Wednesday includes a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The top U.S. diplomat was in Pakistan on Tuesday to urge leaders there to step up their efforts to counter militancy and terrorism.
Tillerson led his delegation into meetings with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the country’s military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and the head of the spy agency and other top officials.
They discussed continued bilateral cooperation and partnership, and expanding economic ties between Pakistan and the United States, said a U.S. embassy statement.
“The Secretary reiterated President Donald Trump’s message that Pakistan must increase its efforts to eradicate militants and terrorists operating within the country,” the statement said.
To address those concerns, it added, Secretary Tillerson outlined Washington’s new South Asia strategy and the vital role Pakistan can play to facilitate a peace process in Afghanistan that can bring stability and security to the region.
“Pakistan and the United States share common interests in establishing a stable, peaceful Afghanistan, defeating ISIS in South Asia, and eliminating terrorist groups that threaten both Pakistan and the United States,” the statement quoted Tillerson as telling Pakistani officials.
A separate statement issued by the prime minister’s office quoted Abbasi as underlining the importance of high-level engagements between Pakistan and the United States and expressing satisfaction on the progress made during these interactions in recent months.
“The two sides agreed to build upon the understandings reached in the dialogue process and to continue the pace and scope of high level engagements in the future,” according to the Pakistani statement.
It said Abbasi also informed the U.S. delegation of steps Islamabad has taken to promote cooperation and stability in Afghanistan and the region, including enhancement of border security.
The statement quoted Abbasi as saying that progress in promoting peace and stability in the region was linked to the resolution of Pakistan’s territorial dispute with India over Kashmir.
Relations between India and Pakistan, almost always on a rollercoaster in their 70-year history of independence from the British, seemed to be in a downward spiral for the past two years. Both sides used harsh words against each other at the recent U.N. General Assembly in New York, accusing each other of human rights abuses or supporting terrorism.